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Not Just A Mole

What is the difference between a beauty mark and a mole?

Absolutely nothing.

Except, of course, perspective.

Both are visible and share the same pigment.  But depending on placement, we view them either as something to be removed or something that adds beauty and personality to a face.

There are, obviously, times when a mole needs to be removed – when it proves to be cancerous or is constantly bumped and prone to bleeding.  These need to be dealt with and removed for the person’s health and well-being.

God continues to change my vision and perspective.  This includes looking at the moles in my heart and life with different eyes.

He has shown me the things that need attention, removal even.  Those things that prove to be a cancer to my soul – old ways of thinking (perfectionism, selfishness and pride); my mind getting in the way of my heart.  Things that needed extraction to save my spiritual life and health.

But there are other spots on me that I would have thought needed removal simply because I didn’t like how they looked at first glance – idiosyncrasies, creative tendencies, overactive imagination, weaknesses.

Jesus is showing me that it’s those moles that are actually hand-crafted by Him as beauty marks – defining characteristics that He wants to use.  Things that weren’t meant to be hidden or covered but to leave exposed to the world for its benefit as well as mine.

What are your beauty marks?  What moles have you been hiding that are actually something Jesus wants to use in the lives others?  Personality traits, spiritual gifts, different ways of thinking? Even weaknesses?  They might even be marks that you’re not completely comfortable with yourself; things that up to this point you wished would be removed because you didn’t fully understand them.

Jesus understands them. Jesus wants to use them to express their beauty and His glory through them. They might be little, they might be big, but they have a purpose in this world. They are meant to be part of the defining of you in God’s scheme of things.

Your beauty marks will look different from mine, and mine will look different from his, hers and theirs.  They were personalized just for you, so don’t pine away wishing they looked like someone else’s.  They are yours and yours alone, made (or allowed) for a very personal and unique purpose.

Psalm 139:13-14 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 – Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

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Confetti

Ripped up pages made of promises

That I could never keep

Torn up bits of “should have dones”

Lie dormant at my feet

Shreds of all that now remains

Of my tattered dignity

Crumpled, roarless paper tigers

That once scared the life from me

What to do with such a mess, this litter on the floor

The paper dolls of ought and not, not connected any more

I did not know what good could come

From the purging of my heart

The History pages torn and bent

Where does one even start?

I gathered everything I could

The pile grew and grew

And placed the mess in Jesus’ hands

Watched to see what He would do

What do you do with brokenness

With its residual disarray?

I thought for sure He’d crumple it

And throw it all away.

Or take the tiny, torn up bits

And torch them with a flame

To burn away the scattered parts

Of what once held my name

But no one could have told me

(Nor would I have believed)

What Jesus did with all that mess

The bits that He’d retrieved.

He took them all inside His hands

And held them toward the sky

Then with a breath, He blew on them

And they began to fly!

Colored pieces without purpose

Looked like something new

The rips and tears looked softer now

Against the heaven’s hues

What once was tattered messiness

Took beauty all its own

In the form of sweet confetti

Floating toward the great unknown

Randomness turned lovely

Nothing unused in the waste
No piece was lost and peace was found

When my mess was touched by Grace….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spit Bath

Sometimes God has no intention of changing something, but every intention of using something.

I am closing in on the last days of my “90 Days of Healing” for my heart and soul – an intimate journey with God into the recesses of my mind and soul to see what it is He would like to heal or work on or transform.

In the beginning, I felt like the “chronically bleeding” woman who was desperately reaching for just the hem of Jesus’ tunic, to feel his power, to be healed from the inside out.  (Luke 8:40-48)

And while there are parts of that “bleeding” that have been addressed, I discovered that I was actually the “blind man” who was about to receive His sight after being touched by Jesus through the mud applied. (John 9:1-7)

I wanted instant healing, like the bleeding woman.  I knew that Jesus had the power to do it and I had the faith to reach out and touch His garment, knowing that just His simplest gesture could bring me relief.

But it turns out that Jesus saw my need for what it was.  It was my vision that was skewed.  And for some reason He chose to use “mud” to help me see 20/20.

Isn’t that interesting?  Spit and dirt.  Not likely things to use, especially on the eyes.  Everything about that combination doesn’t make sense.  Dirt can cause infection, would more likely make a person’s vision more cloudy not more clear and doesn’t have any redeemable qualities in and of itself to promote healing. Dirt in the eye hurts.

But Jesus added a part of Himself to that dirt.  His holy spit mixed with that dirt to make something miraculous happen.  Then He used His holy hands to apply it to that man’s brokenness.

And what was in that man’s first amazing line of vision?  The face of Jesus!  His healer was the first thing He saw.  To me, that is the most beautiful part of this story.

In these 90 days, Jesus has healed and transformed me.  But not in the ways I was expecting.  The parts of me that I was desperate for Him to heal, the situations and circumstances that I was pleading for Him to change were only the dirt that He wanted to use to work with to correct my spiritual vision.

Don’t get me wrong, there definitely have been things in and around me that have changed because they needed to.  But the greatest miracle of all was the change of perspective that has occurred because of things that He has NOT changed in me or in my situations.

I wanted Him to change parts of me.  But He wanted to change ALL of me by healing my eyes with some dirt and a little holy saliva.

I understand so much better now what Paul meant when He said, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

 

 

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What They Are Not

 

Beauty from ashes

Aaaaahhhh, what a thought

To make something new out of something it’s not

The earth formed from nothing

Humankind from that earth

The first breath of life

From the darkness of birth

Fine wine from well water

Five fish feed a crowd

Blind eyes receive sight

Deaf silence turns loud

Enemies of God

Become friends with His Son

The cross battled death

And new life was won

The same God of miracles

Since the beginning of time

Still does His magic

In your life and mine

Despair morphs to hope

The can’ts become cans

When we witness the wonder

Of life in His hands

Beauty from ashes

Aaaaahhhh, what a thought

He still makes new things out of what they are not.

Isaiah 43:19 – See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

2 Corinthians 5:17  – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!

Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

 

 

 

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Big Girl Pants

There are few things in this world that make a girl feel more grown up than going on a road trip and navigating your way through unfamiliar territory and seven different freeways.  (I think Siri was trying to help me avoid traffic?)  Not a fan of LA’s Friday late afternoon traffic, but I made it here without running out of gas, getting pulled over, getting lost or crashing the car.  Everything on my check list!

Hello San Juan Capistrano!!!!

I think I like these big girl pants. :-)

 

 

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“Wonder”ing Eyes

 

Sometimes when we look up all we see is the underside of heaven.

We miss the view that you get when you join Jesus from His vantage point.

Breathtaking

It’s like shaking a resting snow globe.  Suddenly the same landscape takes on a new beauty.  Things coming down from above, covering everything below with a new sense of magic.  Do you remember the childlike ‘Aaahhhh!’ you felt as you watched the sparkly little flakes do their thing?

That.

Because from God’s perspective, there is no ordinary.  There is meaning and purpose in the things we are so accustomed to doing and seeing each day. Every encounter, every conversation has the potential of His snowflakes of love falling on and marking them as divine.

But we need to shift positions to even notice it.

When we look up, only to the underside of heaven, we depend on ourselves to figure it out, to find the purpose.  We try too hard and we squint too much with little change in our vision.

But what if, instead of just looking up, we ask Jesus to LIFT us up onto His lap, to see what He sees?  What if we let HIM shake the snow globe and change the world around us and in us?  What if we give up the straining of our near-sighted eyes and the wasted energy we use to try and shake things up on our own?

It seems that a lot of things would change.

Pride would diminish.

Selfishness would take a back seat.

Worry would be minimized.

The desire for control would start to let go.

And we would begin to see the world, our very same landscape, differently.  The glimmers of purpose would begin to emerge into our line of vision.  The glitter of hope would suddenly appear in the strangest of places.  The globe of our own little worlds would expand, and we would begin to see with eyes of full of wonder that God’s passionate love for us extends beyond boundaries to an entire planet of people He longs to call His own.

We would begin to see that He uses us for these purposes, that He loves through us in the simple things we say and do for others, and we become part of the sparkle, the light that He brings to the world.  Instead of reaching up, we join Him in reaching down, in reaching out.

The world and our circumstances don’t change, necessarily.  But we do.

In a moment of reminiscence, a memory just surfaced that speaks to the same point….

Many moons ago, I remember a vocal coach telling me to approach a high note differently than was my normal tendency.  Being an alto, high notes seemed unattainable.  But he wisely told me to approach them from the top instead of from underneath.  To change my perspective toward the note by looking at it from another angle.  Instead of straining to get up to it, I would begin to visualize it from the upper register down.  It was amazing the difference that this simple shift in thinking did for my voice.

From top to bottom.

The view is so much better….

Matthew 5:14-15 – You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.

Psalm 16:11 – You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Daniel 2:21-22- He changes times and seasons, he sets up kings and deposes them.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.  He reveals deep and hidden things, he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him.

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Baby Atticus

 

This is a call out for prayer for a precious young family that we met while we lived in Arizona.  Three young kids, their fourth on the way.  Their third was just diagnosed with neuroblastoma on the adrenal gland and liver that has quickly metastasized to his lymph system, his bone marrow and his bones (including the bones of his tiny little skull).  He is only 13 months old.  This smiling, happy baby boy and his entire family have had their world turned upside in just a matter of days.  But God is good.  He is using people just like you and me to encourage and support them, both emotionally and in very practical ways.  Please go to their page on Facebook -Atticus Updates –   to hear more about sweet Atticus, told by his very real, very transparent parents Krys and Melissa VanSlyke.  Their immense love so evident in the middle of their honest pain.

This is a family you can’t help but love….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oodles of Noodles

Spaghetti noodles.

All straight and neat and tidy if left in the package.

All long and drapey and delicious if they have the opportunity to cook.

But once they’re at the edible stage, they become tangled and wrapped around each other.  A mess to eat if you don’t wrap them around a fork or cut them into tiny pieces.

The thing is, some of us are at a loss as to how to use our utensils on the beautiful mess before us.

I am, of course, referring not to spaghetti, but to my brain.

Creativity is only shades away from madness.

Today I speak to those whose noodles are randomly entangled, (sometimes thrown at the wall to test their readiness), and to those who love these crazy souls.

1.  Things do not bounce off of us.  They join the bowl of noodles tossed together affecting every other piece.  This is why we feel as deeply as we do even when we don’t want to.  We can’t come away unscathed in some way.

2.  We are easily distracted.  It’s why we text rather than call, because it is our most efficient way to communicate without getting distracted.  It’s why we prefer face to face contact – it gives our restless eyes a focal point.  Outer goings-on become inner goings-on without our even knowing it.

3.  We can’t turn our brains off.  Ideas spawn and multiply and we can’t keep up.  The mound of spaghetti grows and we often feel powerless to stop it, or separate it into chewable pieces.

4.  Sitting still is hard.  Our bodies seem to try and help the brain find release through busyness.  It is futile and self-defeating.  Still we try.

5.  We forget things.  Things get lost in our spaghetti brains.  They are in there somewhere; we just can’t always retrieve them.  Dates and places fail us.  Directions?  All I can say is, we greatly appreciate Siri…

6.  We love deeply.  Sometimes, we are told, too much.  Is this possible?

7.  We are passionate souls.  It comes out of the mess through our creative endeavors, our emotions, our zest for life.  But it can be intense for those around us whose spaghetti is a little less messy.

8.  We can sometimes isolate.  It’s not because we don’t want interaction, necessarily, but because we can’t take in any more input or keep out any more distractions.  This will pass.

9.  Sometimes we feel lonely.  It looks as if everyone else manages their plates with ease, while we feel we are scooping up spills from overflowing bowls.

10.  We are prone to depression and anxiety.  Little of it has to do with our surroundings or our circumstances, and more to do with the noodles waging war with each other.  The what-we-knows battling the what-ifs and what-could-be’s.  Or maybe, more accurately, our surroundings and circumstances initiate the internal fight between these inner thoughts. ( See all of the above. :-) )

The list goes on, but I’m too distracted with the rest of my day to bore you with more. :-)

My encouragement to all of you, those with the same ailment, and those who are trying to understand them, is that this agony brings with it strange depth and beauty.  God shares the creative heart and understands our dilemma.  He joins us in that mess and reveals Himself in ways our minds can grab onto and integrate into and flavor every mixed up noodle in our brain.

To those of you who so patiently love us, we are sorry for the frustration, the misunderstanding, the randomness we bring to the table.

Though we can make a mess, we are desperately trying to use our utensils with a little more finesse…:-)

 

 

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No Anesthesia, Please

If I could choose any famous person from the past to share a conversation and a cup of coffee with, it would be C.S. Lewis.  I love the way that he is able to capture spiritual truths and put meat on them so that we can sink our teeth in and savor their true flavor.  His words are so current, so relevant, so timeless that even now I refer to him in the present tense as if he were still alive.

And so, in an effort to grasp an illustration as to what God has been revealing lately, I reference my yet-unmet friend, C.S. Lewis:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

If I have learned anything in the past few months, it has been how little I knew before about true healing.

We go to God asking Him to heal the scab that we can so easily see from the outside.  What we don’t know at the time of our request is that He has no intention of placing an exterior bandage to an interior problem.  So while we think the problem is an easy fix, a simple “kiss to our boo boo”, He has something so much more grueling and utterly amazing in mind.

By the time a bruise or wound shows on the outside, there has already been damage beneath the skin that we didn’t even know was there.  Something in need of emergency surgery where cutting and transplanting and transfusions are needed before a part of us dies.

We had no idea.

But we cry out in the misery of the obvious scab, as if that were our biggest concern.  We ask Him to fix us because we are in pain, but we have no inclination that healing will require even greater pain.  Because, as horrific as it sounds, this impending surgery will be done while we are wide awake.  We can close our eyes, but if we are sincere in our desire for true healing, we will feel every part of the procedure.  No anesthesia.  This is a surgery that will require our full knowledge.

And if we’re brave enough to open our eyes in the process, we will see things we would otherwise not have noticed.  Like the fact that when we are able to feel the depth of the pain in this ordeal of healing, when we are attune to every ache, we are also able to feel something else.

Our Surgeon’s hands.  So familiar with His patient, His creation, His child.  Hands that have a plan, that know the outcome of this surgery.  Hands that are confident, knowledgeable, practiced and do only the best work.  Hands that will only stop when the procedure is complete.

Somewhere in the middle of the surgery, when our eyes begin to take in as much as our feelings are experiencing, we begin to see glimpses of something changing.  Healing is happening right before us, right IN us, and the pain somehow not only becomes manageable, but beautiful.  We see it as purposeful and necessary and good.

And as the once bloody, ugly mess of brokenness begins to morph into something new, we realize that something has actually replaced the desire for healing alone.  We discover that experiencing the hands of our Great Physician at work within us, His presence and love the meaningful part of the process, are what we long for even more.  That we are able to endure the surgery, no matter how long it takes if it means that God is doing His perfect work in it.

Healing becomes not the goal, but the means by which I see God more clearly for who He truly is.  I see His love in ways I never would have before if I had opted only for a bandaid.

And suddenly, the surgery table no longer feels so cold on my back.  The warmth in my heart and the transformation of my mind are all I can feel in the hands of my able Surgeon….

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Eyes Up

photo-14

When I’m down on my knees, I am learning learning to look up…

When those knees are weak, I am learning to lift my arms…

I’m trading my questions for promises and my doubts for faith….

Joy replacing heartache, courage replacing fear….

Broken meeting complete for the first time….

My naught thrown down for His all….

Psalm 121 -

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord(thank you, Jesus)
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip— (thank you, Jesus)
    he who watches over you will not slumber; (thank you, Jesus)
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you— (thank you, Jesus)
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand; (thank you, Jesus)
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—(thank you, Jesus)
    he will watch over your life; (thank you, Jesus)
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going (thank you, Jesus)
    both now and forevermore. (thank you, Jesus)

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